Join 3,514 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A wedding portrait
February 9, 2007 8:36 AM   Subscribe

A remarkable wedding portrait. Portraits: First Prize, Singles from the 2007 World Press Photo Winners Gallery by Nina Berman.
posted by spock (98 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
See also her book Purple Hearts, and her multipage 2004 Photo Essay in Mother Jones.
posted by spock at 8:37 AM on February 9, 2007


(via)
posted by spock at 8:38 AM on February 9, 2007


Holy crap. I wasn't ready for that.
posted by ColdChef at 8:38 AM on February 9, 2007


...
posted by cardamine at 8:41 AM on February 9, 2007


Me neither. The bride doesn't look especially thrilled.
posted by NekulturnY at 8:42 AM on February 9, 2007


Wow. I can't even begin to process the immensity of that shot. Beautiful. Tragic. Love. Fear. Loss.
posted by isopraxis at 8:43 AM on February 9, 2007


I think my heart just broke.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 8:43 AM on February 9, 2007 [5 favorites]


Will someone tell me if Purple Hearts is like that? I don't want to look without forewarning...
posted by cardamine at 8:45 AM on February 9, 2007


oh man...
posted by milarepa at 8:47 AM on February 9, 2007


cardamine - it's a photo essay of war wounds. Very moving, IMO. None of the facial damage in that series is as serious as the one in the wedding picture
posted by muddgirl at 8:47 AM on February 9, 2007


Wow. Makes the 3rd place photo of Paul Newman look a little ridiculous in comparison.
posted by amro at 8:49 AM on February 9, 2007


I've seen a site full of that couple's wedding pictures, and pictures of the guy before he was disfigured in Iraq. I can't find it now. :(
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:50 AM on February 9, 2007


On a lighter note, the street dancing pictures are very cool.
posted by thekilgore at 8:50 AM on February 9, 2007


Ouch. When I think of "wounded", I think "riddled with bullets" or maybe "missing a leg"... rarely do I imagine somebody getting their face burned off. This guy deserves more than a purple heart, he deserves a new face! c/o G.W.Bush.
posted by tehloki at 8:57 AM on February 9, 2007


Jesus!
posted by OmieWise at 8:58 AM on February 9, 2007


God bless that woman.
posted by daHIFI at 8:59 AM on February 9, 2007


This happened to me, just a few hours ago:

The grandson of the man I am working for here in Kabul is visiting him on holiday. He's at the "introductory tea" for the Afghan ladies that I'll be working with this month. Seems a thoughtful young kid, naive and really excited about his first time outside the states. We spend an hour or so talking about his first experience abroad, how it wasn't what he expected, how this trip is opening up a whole new perspective on the world for him.

As we are leaving the hotel I ask about his plans for the future. "I think I will volunteer for the forces," he says.

"You understand that you'll be killing people?" I ask him, "And that people will be trying to kill you?"

"It opens up a lot of opportunities," he replies.

Lots of opportunities, yo. Like getting your fucking face burnt off. Semper fi!

There is something about the United States that I don't think I'll ever be able to get my head around.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:00 AM on February 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wow. Makes the 3rd place photo of Paul Newman look a little ridiculous in comparison.

I meant Clint Eastwood.
posted by amro at 9:01 AM on February 9, 2007


.
posted by Alt F4 at 9:06 AM on February 9, 2007


She does not look like a woman should on her wedding day.

Pity is not a valid reason to get married.

And the fact that he's wearing his uniform shows the level of brainwashing that occurs in the military.

This is not amazing, or inspiring.

It is sad and exploitive.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:14 AM on February 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


Fuck
posted by Optamystic at 9:14 AM on February 9, 2007


"The bride doesn't look especially thrilled."

I also noticed the brides expression. But to put that spin on it might be a disservice to her. I see fear for what the future holds, I see a bit of confusion...but in the fact that she went through with this marriage regardless of the tragedy her husband endures (and will endure in the future), I see love.
posted by HuronBob at 9:17 AM on February 9, 2007


Ynoxas... to say it is "exploitive" tells me that you are privy to the intent of the bride, the groom, and the photographer.. share that with us please....

Otherwise, how about being a bit less judgemental...
posted by HuronBob at 9:19 AM on February 9, 2007


c/o G.W.Bush.

Yeah, because it was Bush that burned his face off. /sarcasm off

There is something about the United States that I don't think I'll ever be able to get my head around.

Let me explain: Most of the country believes that it is a honorable thing to join the country's military. We do have a few that believe it is not an honorable profession. You are welcome to have them come live with you in Krgyxstyjkxszytgsgkrykistan, or wherever you are, because, frankly, we don't want them here.
posted by tadellin at 9:24 AM on February 9, 2007


"Most of the country believes that it is a honorable thing to join the country's military."

show me the research.... but it really doesn't matter...this isn't about joining the military, it is about sending those who do enter that profession into a war that is most likely illegal.

Looks like Watada may be on the road to proving the illegality of the war...which makes this picture that much more tragic.
posted by HuronBob at 9:27 AM on February 9, 2007


Don't feed the trolls.
posted by euphorb at 9:29 AM on February 9, 2007


I had never seen Nina Burman's stuff before. Really fantastic photos. Her style is so cold, but still very compelling.
posted by serazin at 9:29 AM on February 9, 2007


And the fact that he's wearing his uniform shows the level of brainwashing that occurs in the military.

No it doesn't. That's just silly. He lost his fucking face for that uniform. It's obviously important to him. That's why he's wearing it.

this isn't about joining the military, it is about sending those who do enter that profession into a war that is most likely illegal.

I thought it was about a wedding photo.
posted by Cyrano at 9:30 AM on February 9, 2007 [5 favorites]


Pity is not a valid reason to get married.

I imagine posing for the portrait would be difficult for both of them. That doesn't mean they're not in love.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:31 AM on February 9, 2007


Ynoxas: I see your point about brainwashing in the military, but you know what? If I'd gone through what that guy went through, and looked like what he looked like, I'd wear my uniform every damn day, so everyone around me would know exactly how it happened. Sometimes, continuing to wear the uniform can be as much an indictment as a matter of pride.
posted by hifiparasol at 9:32 AM on February 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pity is not a valid reason to get married.

So is your assumption that she can't possibly love him anymore since he has become disfigured? I hope your significant other knows you feel that way.
posted by amro at 9:33 AM on February 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is a strange feature of the Iraq war - the overall number of killed in action looks relatively low, when compared to Viet Nam or other actions. But the relative number of people who are counted as combat casualties -- wounded or killed -- is about the same. Medical and operations advances mean that people can be kept alive after battlefield injuries when, in the past, they'd have died of blood loss before being transported to effective treatment. The ratio of servicepeople wounded compared to those killed was about 3:1 in World War II; in the current Iraq war, it's seems to be variously reported; I've seen numbers ranging from 8:1 to 16:1.

What this means, in practical terms, is that we have more people coming home from Iraq with catastrophic, seriously compromising, and life-changing injuries than we've seen in previous wars, simply because they are now surviving when in the past, someone who suffered the same trauma would have been judged too far gone in triage, or wouldn't have survived long enough to get treated. This article's old, but contains interesting content.

The 50,000+ wounded veterans are going to pose quite a challenge for the defunded and never-very-efficient VA, and many of their needs have yet to become known. Immediate physical trauma and rehab is one thing. The psychological repercussions will be taking their toll for years to come, and will manifest themselves in both mental and physical health difficulties.

The costs of war.

I, too, wonder about the look on the bride's face. I won't be quick to judge that her motivation is pity; we can't know. I do know that if it were me standing there, you could translate the look as bold serious rage at a government that extracted this price from someone who wanted to give service, and for an indefensible reason. But I don't know what she feels, or what he feels, for that matter. How would you feel asking your fiance to honor her promise after a disfiguring injury?

If you're at all moved by this photo, I recommend a 1946 movie called The Best Years of Our Lives. It's a very surprisingly frank depiction of some of the lingering effects of combat on three returning WWII vets. One of the three lead actors, Harold Russell, was an actual combat veteran who lost both hands during his WWII service and has learned to use mechanical prosthesis hooks instead. When he comes home, he and his hometown girlfriend have to navigate all the strangeness of that, and he feels ruined. I can't recommend this movie enough; we tend to see veterans of that war as celebrated heroes whose transition to civilian life was easy. The Best Years shows that it was no easier than it has been for anyone else, or will be for the men and women returning home now.
posted by Miko at 9:36 AM on February 9, 2007 [17 favorites]


As someone who has taken many pictures of intelligent people with their eyes half-closed, just because she looks uncertain in this one photo doesn't means she wasn't walking around smiling all day.

But yeah, I never expected that photo. It was an absolute shock.
posted by GuyZero at 9:38 AM on February 9, 2007


Sometimes, continuing to wear the uniform can be as much an indictment as a matter of pride.

Side note: That's one of the reasons why so many Viet Nam veterans can still be seen wearing their uniforms today.
posted by Miko at 9:39 AM on February 9, 2007


There was acually a great article about them in newsweek. She doesn't pity him at all. They've been together for a while. There are better pictures of them on their wedding day where everyone looks happy. I'm trying to find the article now.
posted by aacheson at 9:41 AM on February 9, 2007


You can read more about the couple here. He's definitely got a sense of humor.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:41 AM on February 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


My first thoughts were ones of shock and then of pity. The girl looks positively shell-shocked.

What do you do when the personal narrative you've constructed for yourself is both intact and radically different at the same time?



My second thought was, "Baby Ruth?"
Yes. I am going to burn in hell for that one.
posted by MasonDixon at 9:43 AM on February 9, 2007


From the corpse in the library's link:

“I don’t remember saying it to Renee, but I’d have understood if she’d said, ‘Yeah, I’m out of here,’” Ty says.

He had seen other badly wounded soldiers and marines get dumped by their girlfriends in hospital. Sometimes they would be cruel to their girlfriends and chuck them pre-emptively to spare themselves hurt. But quietly and with little fuss, Ty, 24, and Renee, 21, resolved to stick it out.

posted by Miko at 9:44 AM on February 9, 2007


All those right-wing asswipes with their purple bandaids (Swiftboat, ca. 2004) should be forced to look at this photo -- with their eyes propped open with toothpicks, if necessary.
posted by turducken at 9:44 AM on February 9, 2007


The corpse in the library: thanks.
posted by russilwvong at 9:49 AM on February 9, 2007


Thanks for the link, The corpse in the library. I'm going to go off into a corner and feel like a complete wuss now.
posted by Cyrano at 9:52 AM on February 9, 2007


42 photos (mostly wedding, some before)
posted by spock at 9:54 AM on February 9, 2007


Here is a photo gallery of them before & after.

I agree it's sad. I too thought her face looked shellshocked at first, but then I realized that I was projecting my own thoughts onto her. I think I was the shellshocked one.

I grew up in San Diego surrounded by the military so I definitely understand the mindset that makes him want to wear his uniform. Mentally he may consider himself still in the military for the rest of his life, it's a lifelong imprint for many people. That's a very normal thing. I mean, I know people who got out of the Navy 8-10 years ago who still refer to themselves as Navy guys. I know one 34 year old guy who feels the need to share some story about he & his buddies on a submarine (or something) about every ten minutes... but he hasn't been in a submarine since 2001. He actually told me that he wished he could clean my apartment to make it "regulation." He was just dying to show off his Navy skills. I just stared at him. Then I considered whether or not I should fire my housecleaner & just let him do it for free.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:04 AM on February 9, 2007


wow, that photo blew me away.
posted by nickyskye at 10:19 AM on February 9, 2007


I'm not often moved by photographs, but at first viewing I was hit in the sympathy bone with a cold steel sledgehammer. An audible gasp. An "Oh my jesus fucking christ."

I honor her for bravely standing up and declaring herself bride of this man. I honor him for bravely standing there and committing himself to life. My best wishes and my hopes for a good life together.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:22 AM on February 9, 2007


Simper Fi.
She is beautiful.
Lucky Bastard.
posted by MapGuy at 10:28 AM on February 9, 2007


I doubt she's marrying him out of pity. According to the article they were engaged before he got his face burned off.

Certainly what happened is a terrible thing but I imagine she must feel relief that's he's alive and won't ever (I assume) have to go back there. I think most people would rather have a disfigured fiancé than a dead one.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:29 AM on February 9, 2007


My first thought was: "Hell, man, that's a girl you marry."

...but I guess I was too late.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:35 AM on February 9, 2007


I find it fascinating that many of you attributed pity or shock or some sort of unhappiness to her expression. I, too, immediately thought that as well. Indeed, I'm assuming the photographer picked that particular picture for that very reason. On looking over it again, it's pretty clear to me that she was just not smiling. It happens.

I wish the couple all the best in the world.
posted by muddgirl at 10:39 AM on February 9, 2007


I'm with Mapguy - she's stunning.
posted by Dr.James.Orin.Incandenza at 10:41 AM on February 9, 2007


Semper fidelis, always faithful. Indeed.
posted by Joe Invisible at 10:41 AM on February 9, 2007


He may be missing his face, but a lot of personality comes through in those photos.
posted by Luddite at 10:55 AM on February 9, 2007


maybe she's a big clive barker fan? wake up and smell the mutant people.
posted by breakfast_yeti at 11:01 AM on February 9, 2007


Let's be honest about the photo, many are taken--some no doubt have a smile on them. The photographer selected this one. There is a pose here. that's not to say that pose doesn't transmit something important.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:10 AM on February 9, 2007


I see some smiles in the before and after photos--in the after, specifically.

Plus I hope that he will get better. Usually burn surgeries last a long time and some, luckily, will get better over time.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:13 AM on February 9, 2007


It's something special to agree to "For Better or Worse" when it's already gotten bad. Best of luck.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:32 AM on February 9, 2007


Ynoxas, you want to talk about brainwashing, perhaps you should examine your apparent belief that love endures ONLY so long as the person you love is still pretty.

Geez, dude. What a lame thing to say. How can you possibly know that that woman married the man because she pitied him, and not, FOR INSTANCE, because he's the love of her life and the man she wants to grow old with, and, against the backdrop of that kind of emotion, someone not being pretty enough for some jerk On The Internet really doesn't matter a whole lot?

There are a lot of weird comments in this thread. May nothing ever challenge your relationships, folks.

Looking at that image, I see a solemn young couple standing straight and proud. It's a beautiful portrait, and I'm glad it was linked to.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:46 AM on February 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


That photo made my stomach drop.

Then I thought of the guy at the banquet in Pan's Labyrinth. Which also made my stomach drop.
posted by rmless at 11:48 AM on February 9, 2007


I see them happy in the before and afters. The befores are so intersting, seeing him in his former self, handsome man. I agree that his personality shines through in all the photos, and what a beautiful, beautiful bride. I think that it is wonderful that they would still be married, since some people let things like this get in the way, they wouldnt want to deal with it.... that my mefi friends is love.

Its just so moving.
posted by ForeverDcember at 11:53 AM on February 9, 2007


Yeah, the particular expression on your face during one moment of a photo session on your wedding day does not necessarily capture your true feelings for your future, your groom, the wedding day, or frankly even what you're feeling at that moment. If people were actually that easy to read then we as a country wouldn't spend millions of dollars on dating advice and therapists. Some of the other linked photos showed a smiling bride/girlfriend. Maybe at this particular moment someone was shining a light in her face, or maybe she was hungry. Who knows how she really feels, but it's sure to be more complicated than "I am sad and worried so I will wear an ambiguous expression so that everyone will see my true feelings about war."
posted by onlyconnect at 11:58 AM on February 9, 2007


That's a remarkable, powerful image. Thanks for posting it.
posted by maryh at 12:01 PM on February 9, 2007


Keep in mind that this portrait is most likely an outtake from other images where she was smiling. No matter what your fiance comes home looking like, if you are marrying him you will be smiling in at least a few wedding photos. I work with photographers, and the portraits they use in their portfolios are almost always outtakes where the person is relaxed and doesn't know they are being shot.
Just keep that in mind when you think she is miserable and showing it.
posted by rubyeyo at 12:20 PM on February 9, 2007


Me neither. The bride doesn't look especially thrilled.
posted by NekulturnY


Am I the only one who has seen this couple on every news channel lately? They're all over the networks - and they've been in love for quite some time. She's been by his side and supportive nonstop since his return from Iraq...and from the interviews I've seen, she's either a very good actor or she's mature enough to see past his disfigurement. More than some of those who have replied here are able to, apparently.

I second thanatopsis' comment - that, most certainly, is a woman you marry.
posted by NationalKato at 12:34 PM on February 9, 2007


If you're at all moved by this photo, I recommend a 1946 movie called The Best Years of Our Lives. It's a very surprisingly frank depiction of some of the lingering effects of combat on three returning WWII vets.

Strongly seconding the recommendation for that movie.
posted by vacapinta at 12:37 PM on February 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh man, he comes off as such a great, positive, dry-witted guy in the Times Online article--I'd have fallen for him too. Best wishes to them.
posted by hippugeek at 12:53 PM on February 9, 2007


GuyZero writes "just because she looks uncertain in this one photo doesn't means she wasn't walking around smiling all day. "

I was going to say that, technique wise (posing and expressions), this isn't a good wedding portrait and I'm surprised it won an award for such. On re-reading I see the award was for Portait without the wedding qualifier and as such isn't too bad. Still I'm surprised there wasn't better in the pool. Stuff like the nasty shadow on the backdrop would usually result in the image being bit bucketed.
posted by Mitheral at 1:58 PM on February 9, 2007


Homer and Wilma's weddingThe Best Years of Our Lives (1947). For all of its visual impact and storytelling skill, Hollywood is no match for real life this time.
posted by cenoxo at 2:02 PM on February 9, 2007


Thanks.
posted by The God Complex at 2:04 PM on February 9, 2007


On preview, props to Miko.
posted by cenoxo at 2:05 PM on February 9, 2007


Hmm, how to say this? Just before my ex-wife and I had planned to marry, something happened with me that was a huge incentive for her to leave. Absolutely no one would have blamed her. She literally had a plane ticket in her pocket home that she hadn't planned to use, but could have. She stayed and married me.

To her later regret, I'm sure, four years later when she did leave.

My point here is that her initial faith in me was mind-boggling. And it touched me incredibly deeply, playing a large role in me having an irrational and absolute faith in her that, in the end, was proved false. Later, I realized that her decision to stay with me and marry me had at least as much to do with her own circumstances and emotional condition as it had anything to do with how she felt about me. When she later left me with nothing more than "I fell out of love with you last summer", I was utterly shocked and devastated. (Not to say that it was a complete mystery. I knew without being told many of her reasons.)

It's probably wrong to compare this bride's love for her husband and decision to stay with him with my own experience. But this man may have expectations of this woman that she will not be able to live up to. She may find that spending her life with this person is even harder than she expected and that she can't do it.

What would be nice is to know (and perhaps this is in that interview I haven't read which is linked in a comment above) that everyone involved understands that this is only a first step. Really, it's a wonderful thing that they married and she's there for him now, but it's only the beginning of what will almost certainly be very difficult. In that light, this moment is separate and inviolate from anything that happens later. As it should be.

And yeah, great comment, Miko.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:48 PM on February 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nothing I can say can possibly describe the debt I owe this man. He and all like him out there are sacrificing everything to go and fight for a cause they believe in. It is a level of commitment and sacrifice that not many in this country can manage, and not many in this country can understand. Call it an illegal and unjust war, say we've lost and it's hopeless, but these young people have more honor and character in one pinky than much of us have in our entire bodies.

These boys and girls aren't being brainwashed or coerced into it, they willingly go, that is what it means to be in an all-volunteer armed forces. It is a great disservice to them to apply our own half-assed armchair general views to their motivations. They willingly go, they willingly watch their friends die, they willingly kill for their country, and I for one and damned proud of them. I hope these two have a long and happy marriage together, they both deserve it.

Semper Fi.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:32 PM on February 9, 2007


Some years ago, while waiting in a movie line, I turned around and saw, a few people behind me, a guy who had lost his face. It was worse than the Marine in the picture : no lips, no nose, no ears, just a tight, pink skin on a skull, a hole for the mouth and two big, rolling eyes. And while his appearance was upsetting and nightmarish, it just took me a few seconds to realise the obvious, that he was just a regular guy who was busy telling jokes to the two girls at his side and making them laugh. And yeah, his entire face was gone, but not what made him distinctly human-looking and actually, well, normal.

Just to say that I'm not surprised that the bride from the FPP went ahead with the wedding. Her guy may be missing some bits here and there, but when she looks at him, she may not see any major difference. It's not even about love, just that a person remains a person, face or not.
posted by elgilito at 3:43 PM on February 9, 2007


wow. just wow.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2007


And the fact that he's wearing his uniform shows the level of brainwashing that occurs in the military.
No it doesn't. That's just silly. He lost his fucking face for that uniform.
If it's true that he lost his fucking face for that uniform, then it does show the level of brainwashing.

This is similar to the "Our soldiers have layed down their lives for that flag" canard. No one should ever be sent to a war "for" such a trifle, and if they honestly thought that they were fighting for that flag, or that uniform, or the corps, then yes, they were brainwashed, at least to some extent.

Respect the flag? Absolutely, I'm there. The uniform? Sure. The fact that he volunteered? Of course. The sacrifice he made? Most emphatically.

But we have a responsibility towards those people who bravely volunteer to defend us, and our freedoms, and our rights: Those are the only things that we should ever ask them to perhaps get their fucking faces blown off for.

And the current war is about defending none of those things. So while he nobly volunteered to perhaps get his fucking face blown off for those things, we are left with, at best, saying that he got his fucking face blown off for a uniform.

A uniform.
posted by Flunkie at 4:09 PM on February 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


But we have a responsibility towards those people who bravely volunteer to defend us, and our freedoms, and our rights: Those are the only things that we should ever ask them to perhaps get their fucking faces blown off for.

And to a great many of those people, the uniform is a symbol of the responsibility they volunteered for.

He didn't get his fucking face blown off for his dress blues. He wasn't even wearing them at the time. Doubt he even packed them for the trip. But he did come perilously close to giving his last full measure of devotion.

So as far as I'm concerned, if he wants to wear that uniform when he takes a bath, he's earned it.
posted by Cyrano at 4:51 PM on February 9, 2007


Thanks Republicans!
posted by rougy at 4:54 PM on February 9, 2007


So as far as I'm concerned, if he wants to wear that uniform when he takes a bath, he's earned it.
Nothing that I said was intended to contradict this in any way.
posted by Flunkie at 4:59 PM on February 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here is a much more pleasant picture of the couple on their wedding day.
posted by Flunkie at 6:14 PM on February 9, 2007


The President and his Advisors should be required to interview every significantly-harmed soldier that is returned from service.

It would help them get a grip on just how horrific the consequences of war are, and how important it is to consider war the choice of last resort.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:47 PM on February 9, 2007


Wow, just wow. That must have been one hell of a long time to recover.

My heart aches for our soldiers getting so badly damaged for the war based on lies and stretched truths.
posted by fenriq at 6:48 PM on February 9, 2007


And thanks for the lighter image, Flunkie, it helped to put things in better perspective.
posted by fenriq at 6:48 PM on February 9, 2007


This is similar to the "Our soldiers have layed down their lives for that flag" canard. No one should ever be sent to a war "for" such a trifle, and if they honestly thought that they were fighting for that flag, or that uniform, or the corps, then yes, they were brainwashed, at least to some extent.

Clearly someone doesn't understand synecdoche.
posted by Frankieist at 7:22 PM on February 9, 2007


I purposely made the FPP politically/ideologically neutral and was interested in seeing the directions of the discussion thread. Like most art, this photograph seems to have done a better job of revealing information about its viewers (by their interpretations/reactions) than it does its subjects.
posted by spock at 7:31 PM on February 9, 2007


God Bless America.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:33 PM on February 9, 2007


Frankieist, I understand synecdoche just fine. But that particular canard is commonly used to defend the theory that Americans should not be allowed to disrespect the flag.

Which is completely contrary to the reason that the flag deserves respect in the first place.
posted by Flunkie at 7:33 PM on February 9, 2007


Like most art, this photograph seems to have done a better job of revealing information about its viewers (by their interpretations/reactions) than it does its subjects.

Yeah, why are we projecting our own thoughts and emotions onto this couple? Some people look at the photo and see anger at the war. Others see a man committed to wearing the uniform honorably even after a great sacrifice. To my knowledge this couple has said nothing for or against the war, so let's not use their wedding photo to put our words in their mouths.
posted by b_thinky at 8:45 PM on February 9, 2007


So while he nobly volunteered to perhaps get his fucking face blown off for [freedom], we are left with, at best, saying that he got his fucking face blown off for a uniform.

Flunkie just summed up the tragedy of America in a paragraph.

Flunkie does indeed understand synecdoche just fine.
posted by poweredbybeard at 9:02 PM on February 9, 2007


Becky recalled that on Valentine’s Day in hospital in 2005, Ty was so wounded he could hardly speak. She and Renee taped a pen to the splint on his hand and he wrote as best he could on a dry erase board: “Ty and Renee”.

“Well, we think it said ‘Ty and Renee’,” Becky laughs. “Then doctors removed his ‘trake’ – the tracheostomy tube in his neck that had been feeding him when his lips were too burnt – and he said, ‘Renee, will you be my valentine?’ I cried.” His next words were: “Do you want to make out?”
Ok, that's pretty fucking funny.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:48 PM on February 9, 2007


Good to hear the guy has a sense of humour.

I hope it extends to things in decidedly bad taste.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:47 PM on February 9, 2007


they willingly kill for their country, and I for one and damned proud of them

Why would that make you proud?
posted by Meatbomb at 4:47 AM on February 10, 2007


that picture shows two people who each separately stronger than I am. I wish them the best, and earnestly hope Ty gets the counseling he'll need to keep his wits/personality intact through the coming years.

and the gallery of pics from the wedding day definately show a more typical reception/celebration than the prize-winning shot (which is scaled down a tad much for my taste...)

fuck the politics, this is their life.
all the best to them.
posted by Busithoth at 7:05 AM on February 10, 2007


Like most art, this photograph seems to have done a better job of revealing information about its viewers (by their interpretations/reactions) than it does its subjects.

To be fair to everyone, you're exactly right, though the statement is not remarkable and no one need feel guilty about the impressions they took away from the image. All art, photography included, is subject to the viewer's interpretation, because we can only see through the lens of our own experience. Meaning does not reside within the photograph, but in us.

Also, you presented only the photograph, so if we were meant to discern any context or build any meaning about anything that wasn't on the surface, we had to find other sources of information. Fortunately, the picture incited enough wonder that people did, and my experience of the photo was enriched by reading the linked information, although my personal interpretation and thoughts about the issue of wounded veterans and service in general remain essentially unchanged.
posted by Miko at 7:25 AM on February 10, 2007


"Meaning does not reside within the photograph, but in us."

With all due respect—and I'm not just saying this because you know I have a high regard for your thoughtful comments—I think that's facile. Meaning resides in the intersection of the photograph and us. The supposed fallacy of intentionalism, or at least the constant accusation of the fallacy, is itself a fallacy, in my opinion. There's something deeply disturbing to me in the way that so many people seem to take "sides" in the complement of objectivity/subjectivity and assert the absolutism of one or the other. But they are yin and yang, they cannot exist without each other. All is not subjective, aesthetics is not only subjectivity. It's the whole. The photograph is not a photograph of a penguin—no one here would honestly claim such a thing. The "meaning" of that photograph is just as tethered by the photograph itself as it's tethered by our comprehension of it. Its meaning is the taut line between the two anchors.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:07 AM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Meaning resides in the intersection of the photograph and us.

Well said, and you're certainly correct that all is not subjective, though as a constructivist I do lean toward the idea that most of the meaning is supplied by the viewer (even things that come via cultural learnings, such as why we recognize that it's a wedding portrait, how we interpret the style of dress on each, etc.).

I guess I was trying to say that we shouldn't feel judged simply because we responded to the photograph, since the photograph has been shared precisely in order to elicit the widest possible response.
posted by Miko at 10:23 AM on February 10, 2007


Yah. Absolutely.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:46 AM on February 10, 2007


Most of the country believes that it is a honorable thing to join the country's military

I don't think this is true anymore. I don't think it was true in the late stages of the Vietnam war either (you know, when returning soldiers were either literally or figuratively spat upon?)

In February 2007, if you go to your local recruitment office and sign up for the military, you know (or you should know) that you're going to end up in Iraq, doing the things that our soldiers in Iraq are doing.

There are a significant (and growing) number of Americans who believe our actions in Iraq are unconscionable, immoral, and that many of the acts committed by our government's footsoldiers and leaders should (or at least could) be prosecuted as war crimes.

An individual who volunteers for the US Military today knows that s/he will be expected ordered to participate in those actions. The individual action of volunteering has arguably become an immoral action by itself, because of the course of events that it is likely to lead to.

That is not honorable. It's a tragic state of affairs.

It's no surprise that recruitment rates are way down, as is the quality of new recruits.
posted by toxic at 4:26 PM on February 10, 2007


It would be difficult to feel that it is honorable to join the military, when the military is so consistently used without honor.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on February 10, 2007


Poor guy and kudos to the bride, she is a better woman than I. Although, I would have married him too.
posted by WaterSprite at 8:31 PM on February 10, 2007


« Older BASSFIGHT!...  |  Mirin Dajo (1912-1948, born Ar... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments